Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Here's Bernhard Drax's coverage, in Second Life, of President Barack Obama's July 11 speech to the people of Ghana, which Drax calls "one of the most tweeted, facebooked, and SMS'ed events" of the six-month-old Administration.

Drax's engaging, mixed-media report blends virtual and offline interviews and video clips to explore the way social media were used by Obama's team to distribute Obama's speech to Africans lacking direct access to the Internet. But the real highlight is Drax's coverage of the interactive, global speech-viewing party convened in Second Life during Obama's remarks and an SL panel discussion that followed, featuring Kenton Keith, the former ambassador to Qatar, and Timothy Burke, an expert in African history.

Drax also interviewed some of the people who sent their avatars to both gatherings. Julius Sowu, who left Ghana for the U.K. in 1981, praised the opportunity he and others from around the world had to convene digitally in one place at one time to discuss Obama's speech as it was happening. Social media [including SL and other uses of the metaverse], he told Drax, are transforming politics and public engagement in profound new ways. "Gone are the days when a news story would break, (Ghana's) minister would send it to the media department to resolve the issue and then present the world with a comment about the issue," Sowu says. "Now that it's on Twitter, it's on Facebook, and it's on Second Life, the minister doesn't have time to spin it."

[NOTE: The suited avatar wearing eyeglasses and headphones is Draxtor Despres, Drax's alter-ego in Second Life, who is narrating the story.]

For more on Drax and his work, see Mo' Real, an earlier post on Cause Global by Marcia Stepanek about news reporting in Second Life.

—Marcia Stepanek

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